Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Defense of the EEOC? No, Just a Reminder About Pancakes

Tom Crane, at the San Antonio Employment Law Blog, had a very interesting post last week that complains about an EEOC investigator turning an employee away when it appeared she had a valid complaint, EEOC Would Not See Retaliation If It Was in Front of Its Face.

And I must admit the story is fairly compelling.

After receiving a report of sexual harassment, the investigator asked whether she had told the HR department. After answering no, the employee called HR and made a report from the EEOC office. Then the story continues:
Within ten minutes, the owner calls the employe, still at the investigator's office. She puts him on speaker phone. The owner says, "I understand you complained about me. You don't need to return to the office." The owner fired the employee over the EEOC's own phone within ten minutes of her complaint. The investigator heard it all.

One might think, great, what great evidence! The silly owner called and fired the employee for pursuing her rights with the EEOC - right where the EEOC could observe the whole chain of events.

Wrong. The invstigator still insisted she had no case and refused to allow her to file a claim for discrimination or for retaliation. He tells the employee she should just go collect her last paycheck and move on with her life.
It is certainly not my place to defend the EEOC, they are big enough to do that themselves, nor can I say that I have not heard of events happening at the EEOC that are probably not the best course of action. (But hey, what large organization doesn't have some incidents that don't put them in their best light.)

But I do have to say, when I read the story, a saying by one of my former law partners came to mind:
Every pancake, no matter how thin, has two sides.
My guess is that there is another side to this story.


Both sides of most pancakes taste the same.
All stories have another side - especially so in employment cases. But, even allowing for some exaggeration or over-reaction, it is a telling account. I admire what the EEOC has done and can do. But, it does have some systemic issues. 100% accurate or 50%, the story still reflects some of the weaknesses of the EEOC.
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